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Flight Log – Easing Back Into It

August 20th, 2020 · No Comments · Gaming

Click for the gallery on flickr, because the embed options suck

Click the above image for the gallery on flickr cause the embed options all suck. Also all images are captioned with additional information not always included below

I have been mucking about with the new Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 since it release earlier this week and for the most part have had a great experience, all things considered. I was very surprised to see it releasing prior to holiday 2020 so I knew it was going to be a rough launch, and it has been, but the basics are there and functional and all I need right now as a low-skill level VFR flyer. It’s been almost 7 years since I’ve flown and while I’ve been reading up on my past flight logs to get a sense of where I was, my knowledge has faded a lot so I will need to do some basic flying for a while to relearn things. Before that however I needed to get all setup, literally dusting off my flight hardware and getting it all laid out and plugged in then mapped to controls. Of course first I needed to setup my start plane of choice, the Cessna 152, with a proper paint job and ID. Then I got down to the business of getting my controls setup, testing it out – and ended up with a pretty nice layout with my current desk setup compared to what I was working with just over a decade ago. I did a triple-monitor flight, only loosely following proper VFR flight rules, just to see how the experience was. Overall I decided I would stick to single-monitor and still use my side displays for reference material. I of course flew over my house and flew with a friend.

Today though I’m finally starting to get serious again. I upped my simming a bit with a flight from KBLM down to KWWD with real world weather, multiplayer traffic and real-world traffic. I also opted initially to turn on the chance of failures but apparently that’s still a bit buggy as I loaded onto the ramp with an engine fire. I was going pure VFR, no nav radios, just a simple flight down the Jersey coast to reach Cape May. Loading cold and dark I ran through the C152 startup procedures from the POH and then used the ATC interface to check the weather, set my altimeter and pick my departure runway. Winds were calm so I chose to depart from Rwy14 to head straight out. I announced my taxi and set off for the end of the runway. As I taxied along I happened to look behind me and see another Cessna taking off from Rwy32, unannounced. Such will be the nature of dealing with other people in multiplayer – thankfully you can’t crash into them so if incursions like this happen it’s no big deal. Annoying still though that they choose to fly with others but can’t respect the rules of actual air traffic.

I made it to the hold-short of Rwy14 and pulled off into the run-up area to perform my before takeoff checklist. Running up to 1700 RPM I toggled through my magnetos but didn’t notice an RPM drop, which was disappointing to see the electrical system not deeply modeled but at least when I pulled out the carb heat I did see RPMs drop as they are supposed to. I also saw my oil pressure gauge at the very bottom of the green instead of actually in the green as it is supposed to be. But suction and ammeter looked good so I throttled back to idle and radioed my intent to depart straight out from Rwy14.

Takeoff was routine and I was soon climbing out towards the shore, looking to level off and trim out to 1,200′ ASL. I had SkyVector open on one monitor so I could keep track of my progress down the coast. The ride was mostly smooth, I only noticed a bit of light chop here and there. Flew through some sea haze I probably should have climbed over or maneuvered around. Coming up on Barnegat inlet there should have been a lighthouse visible for a landmark but it was not rendered. Overall though the experience was not lessened as I enjoyed the sun rising higher, glinting off the water and illuminating my cockpit with its soft glow. Such awesome atmospherics and lighting in this new engine.

One major disappointment during the flight was Atlantic City. None of the casinos or the boardwalk and amusement piers were visible, which I didn’t think would have been much of a problem for the photogrammetry algorithm. The sim also re-opened Bader field while at the same time marking it closed, so that was weird. (Edit 8/30: it’s already been fixed by a local hero and I updated the album image. This is what it used to look like) I maintained my altitude of 1,200′ or lower to scoot under the KACY charlie airspace and continue on my way south, tuning to Ocean City (26N) to stay aware of any traffic in the area, but there was none – most of the user traffic was around NYC metro area far to the north now.

I made it down to the tip of Cape May with no issues still, the aircraft was handling superbly although I had taken out the weight of the passenger so needed to make constant roll corrections but that wasn’t too big of a deal. I took a look around for the Cape May lighthouse but again was denied – other VFR stuff like radio towers and power lines have also been reported missing but I did see wind power turbines so the lack of towers is a strange omission.

Air traffic in the area remained non-existent so after getting the latest weather report I opted for the obvious upwind approach to Rwy28 and announced my position and intention. Hearing no response as I circled the cape, I setup for a crosswind pattern entry onto the downwind leg and continued to report my position all the way onto final approach. Working through the pattern however I noticed my instrument panel compass was not calibrated properly – which was weird because it seemed fine at KBLM and I didn’t think gyro drift would be an issue on this short flight but I guess not and I reset it to my magnetic compass on the windshield. Landing was buttery smooth – when I first got back into the cockpit earlier this week I was bouncing a bit on landing but this was my 5th and earlier by the 3rd one the bounce was gone. Like riding a bike!

It’s great to be simming again, and FS2020 looks to carry the genre well into the future. I will continue with my progression, sticking to the C152 until I get my basic flying chops down, only taking off from the last airport I landed at – making the journey part of the experience if I want to go places. Onward to the skies!

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